|The first Mercury space shot was incredible, and Apollo 13 was spellbinding. But, Apollo 11 is, without any doubt in my mind, THE most memorable event. I was an exchange student in South America that summer and in Bogota for the liftoff. What a feeling of pride and anticipation for what my country was about to accomplish. On July 20 I left Colombia and flew to Guayaquil, Ecuador. Imagine my surprise when I left the airport. The television station was across the street from the airport. They had a mock up of the lunar lander and two men dressed in space suits mirroring what Armstrong and Aldrin were doing on the moon. Experiencing this landing 'life size' rather than from a 21 inch screen was a shock!! It was like being there on the moon. It was as if I really saw these two 'astronauts' stepping onto the 'moon' for the first time. The scene was wild. Hundreds of people were watching from the sidewalks, people in cars were honking their horns, and the rooftops of nearby buildings were full of people cheering in support of this remarkable achievement. July 20, 1969, is indelibly etched into my memory. The combination of my feelings of amazement in what my country had been able to accomplish along with the sight of all of these Ecuadorians cheering along with us is a memory that I will always treasure.
- Gersie Arnold, Teacher
I remember that day clearly. I was 11 years old and in Mexico of all places. My family and I were vacationing and visiting relatives in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico. You see, as a Mexican American kid, I was bilingual and vacationed there as a native would.
We drove there and were aware of all the lunar proceedings during our trip. Well the day came and as luck would have it, none of our relatives had a TV. Imagine that!
I remembered passing a house belonging to a wealthy family and decided I would go there to see if they were watching the news coverage. Sure enough, they were! I was excited, and a little scared...I didn't want to be caught peeking into the house. I remember it lasting a while and when the boring newsmen showed up on TV, I said a silent thank you to my unaware and gracious hosts and ran to my aunt's house.
I burst into the kitchen (which, by the way, was detached from the house) and blurted all kinds of unintelligible things until I collected myself and told them what I saw! My folks were pleased that I got to see it...my aunt didn't understand a thing. Either way, I have been able to close my eyes and relive it since. What a thing.
- Author Unknown
On July 20, 1969 I was in the picturesque town of Heidelberg, Germany. I was a young American teacher on my first trip to Europe and trying to travel on $5.00 a day. Consequently, we had no access to television. We were walking down one of the beautifully quaint streets when Germans ran up to us, hugging us, and saying in broken English, "We did it! A man is on the moon!" Although I missed the televised landing and it was years before I saw the footage of the actual landing, I was deeply moved by the rejoicing of people around the world who viewed the accomplishment not so much as an American feat but as a giant step for humanity. "They" felt part of the "we" who put the men on the moon and all identified with the astronauts as human beings.. July 20, 1996 was a day on which the world took a giant leap toward unity.
- Author Unknown
On July 20, 1969, my father, mother, sister and I lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Daddy worked as a radio-operator for USAID. Mommy was a translator of historical maps. I was in high school and my sister was finishing middle school. It was winter vacation in Rio, and the great event was patiently awaited.
People on the street refused to believe humans were actually in space and would land on the moon. Many people in Brazil believe Saint George lives on the moon perennially mounted on his white horse, battling a fierce dragon.
We were all together in the living room, sitting and staring at our black and white TV. It was one of the few moments in my life when I remember my mom being very, very quiet. I think we had short wave radio going on at the same time, to get the transmission of the event in English rather than in Portuguese.
I will never forget how proud I felt when man walked on the moon and how touched I was to see the tiny USA flag planted on the lunar ground. Neil Armstrong's words, ''It's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,'' are to me part of the history of humanity in search of its roots, along with Yuri Gagarin's ''The earth is blue,'' in 1959.
The next days controversy was whether the event had been staged or had been real, whether it had rained more than usual because men were poking around on the moon ...
It was winter 1969 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I was seventeen, Woodstock the movie, was yet to arrive, but the Apollo 11 did announce that the times, they were 'a changin'...
- Tina Harris-Rouquette
On that day in '69 I was touring England and had spent much of the day at Stonehenge marveling at the monoliths and why they were there. When we returned to our hotel in Shakespeare's town of Stratford upon Avon, the innkeepers called our rooms to inform us that the 'Yanks are about to land on the moon!'
We all trouped down stairs to the lounge with the only 'tele' in the place and arrived just in time to see the first step on the moon. Everyone in the darkened room burst into applause and I was struck with what a remarkable compression of time I had experienced that day.... From Stonehenge to Stratford to the Moon all in one day - it was, to say the least, mind boggling. I've never forgotten it and doubt that I ever will.
Such a juxtaposition of places and events, I think, doesn't happen very often in a lifetime.
- Nancy Woodward
In 1969 I was 13 years old and was living in Rome, Italy. My father had been transferred to Italy when I was 10. That summer we were in a small town near Venice called Treviso. Friends from the States had come to visit. The talk of the hotel and its patrons was about the Americans in space. There were many foreign visitors there also. I speak English, Italian and a little French. It was fun to listen to all these people from different cultures and countries all captivated by the same subject.
Italian television at the time was very limited. There were only 2 channels. The hotel put a black and white TV near the pool area and another one in the room nearby. The night of the moon walk everyone from the hotel, day tourists and townspeople crowded in that small area. People were sitting in the trees! Yet there was not a sound except the pool water being pushed by the wind. It seemed like everyone was holding their breath. Then a cheer exploded when Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the moon. There was such happiness. People were hugging and clapping.
When people found out that we were Americans, we became something special. America was seen as a magical place where anything could be accomplished. When Armstrong's comment, "...a giant step for mankind" was translated, the feeling expressed by the international group present was that this was a human success as well as an American success.
I remember feeling proud that I was an American and very worried about the safety of the astronauts. Being in that environment made the world seem to be smaller and finally united. We connected as people instead of as citizens. Space is and was the final frontier.
- Author Unknown
I was the newly appointed US Army Attaché to the US Embassy, Moscow and that night (Moscow time) we listened to the landing of "Eagle" on the moon. As it appeared to be only a few seconds from landing or crashing the Soviets cut in their jamming and we never heard the outcome until much later, when the Embassy announced the landing.
In those days the Soviets were doing everything they could to make life hard for the people in the embassy. The jamming antennas were actually visible within a half mile of our window. We lived on the seventh floor of the embassy and my office was on the tenth floor but to get there I had to go down seven, out of doors and up nine.
We had seven children (now 15 grandchildren) of whom five attended the Soviet school located across the street from our ambassador's residence, about a mile from the embassy. They knew no Russian at the time of the Eagle's landing by design, we wanted them to learn their Russian from Russians. They were truly VIPs the day after the Eagle's landing. The Russian schoolchildren had been convinced that our landing and everything about our space program was a failure, but they all knew that we had had a tremendous success - how, we never knew.
- Bill Schneider, Colonel US Army Engineer (Retired)
I was 15 years old and in Rome, Italy. I was in Europe with a student group (American Institute for Foreign Study) and Rome was one of the side trips. I remember the hotel manager allowed we American students to come to his private sitting room and watch Neil Armstrong make those first historic footsteps and say those immortal words. I have never felt prouder to be an American that I felt at that moment, and to this day, I can vividly remember the joy and elation exhibited by everyone, American, Italian, Canadian, English, Scottish, French, and Japanese...as these were the countries the students that comprised my group were from. It was truly a celebration for all of mankind....-
- Kimberly W. Berg, R.N.
When the astronauts first landed on the moon, I will living in Bernhausen, W. Germany, outside of Stuttgart, in the home of a German family. My husband was serving in the U.S. Army at the time. Since the landing was in the wee hours of the morning there, our landlord came up to our attic apartment and knocked on the door to summon us down to their home to watch their television (we didn't have one). He spoke no English (except "Rent") but served us drinks and got up and shook our hands enthusiastically when the landing occurred. We then went back to bed. At the age of 23 I saw the possibility of people of different cultures and experiences putting aside differences for a common cause. It was truly a "hands across the sea" experience, one I will always cherish. It was an exciting moment for all of us, very emotional. We could hear the barriers between nations tumbling down, if only for a moment. A very special moment in my life.
- Author Unknown
Vietnam created a hole in the heart of America the size of a moon crater. My heart was no different. In the summer of '69 I donned a backpack and hitched across Europe. A nineteen year old girl clutching a copy of Arthur Frommer's "Europe on $5 a Day" making her way from hostel to hostel.
In July I rolled into France. The trucker dropped me in Paris. The only thing poorer than me was my French and the Parisians, true to their reputation, were not appreciative of my efforts to speak their language. Tongue-tied and embarrassed, I couldn't change money at the bank. The clerk repeated over and over, in an increasingly loud tone that left no doubt who the idiot was in this transaction, that he didn't understand what I wanted. A security guard waved me away from the window.
Tears welled. I turned them to rage. My blood boiled. I hated
France. Damn the Parisians. I walked down a crowded street glaring at every French face I saw. "And your berets are stupid too," I thought.
A crowd was gathered outside a store that sold televisions. I
approached and through the window could see grainy footage. "What's going on?" I asked in English and French. The French men and women mesmerized by the site before them spoke. "You are on the moon. The moon!" "Hard to believe." "What a sight!" "Amazing!" "Look, look what he is doing!" And soon the whole crowd was talking about the feat of the Americans. Someone clapped me on the back.
I listened. I watched. A part of the wound in my chest, the one caused by Vietnam, healed a little that afternoon. I don't think the rest of it ever will, but I do know that for the first time in my life, on a crowded sidewalk in Paris, I was proud to be an American.
- Barbara Quinn, Writer
As an enlisted U.S. airman on leave in Greece, I was in a hotel on the island of Rhodes. About 1:00 a.m., a furious pounding came on my door with excited voices in Greek shouting, "Amerikanae, Amerikanae!"
I thought that the hotel was on fire. When I answered the door, the hotel's owners hustled me to the lounge, where a crowd of at least 20 were huddled around a radio, listening to a broadcast from Cyprus in English: the moon landing.
With a tension that was almost palpable, the crowd hushed as the BBC announcer gave the play-by-play. Finally, Armstrong emerged from the lander and stepped down onto the rungs of the ladder. With his words ringing in the relayed static, I realized that this historical moment would always be, for me, surrounded by the amazed and proud faces of my new-found friends awed by the fantastic technical and human feat of one man, alone before a hostile universe.
When Armstrong's boot touched the moon's surface, a cry went up from every voice in the room. Greek cheers mingled with English, with Italian, with German, with Finnish. For one moment, the world was a very small place focused on a single man a quarter of a million miles away
- Bob Dolezal
On July 20, 1969, my family and I were living and studying in Taichung, Taiwan ROC). Two years earlier, as a recent college graduate with a wife and two children, I joined one of our nation's intelligence services. I had always been interested in China and Chinese history and was presented with an undeniable opportunity to study Mandarin. After nearly a year's study in Washington, D.C., I was transferred to the Foreign Language Training Institute operated by the U.S. Department of State in Taichung. We arrived in late June, 1969.
News coverage in 1969, in Taiwan, was not always in "real time". Nonetheless, all of the Americans anxiously awaited the moon flight. My family and I were still in the process of acclimating to living in a new country. I remember the coverage in the Chinese press about local reactions to the upcoming flight and landing. The younger people mostly viewed the possibility with as much anticipation as we did. The older folks, on the other hand, were agitated that a moon landing by humans would disturb heavenly cycles and irk the gods.
On July 20th, we crowded around a small, black and white television to observe the historic landing. The reception was lousy; the voice-over barely understandable. I recall some cheering when Neil Armstrong touched the moon's surface and uttered his famous phrase. Mostly, though, I remember quiet murmurings of disbelief that a human being, and yes, an American, was actually on the moon.
- Stephen J. Fox, Furniture Artist, Environmental Consultant
On the evening of July 20, I was in a smoky bar in Brussels, Belgium, watching a black-and-white television broadcast in French with Bob, an Army buddy. Every face was turned to the TV, mesmerized by ghostly images from the lunar landing vehicle. An American was going to plant our nation's flag on the moon, but what we were about to witness would transcend concepts of borders and nations.
Tension rose. We couldn't understand French, but we gathered that Neil Armstrong was preparing to exit to the lunar surface. No longer content to see history being made, Bob and I decided we also wanted to hear and understand it. We had only minutes to find a television with commentary in English. Dashing out of the bar, we sprinted to the Brussels Hilton a few blocks away and found a crowd had gathered to watch the event on TV. In French.
Armstrong was poised to go. Fumbling with my transistor radio in search of an English-language station yielded nothing but static. Then, just as Armstrong made his way to the ladder, I held the radio next to a window and tuned in Armed Forces Radio. By holding my right ear next to the radio at the window, and squinting over my left shoulder at the TV, I finally could hear as well as see.
When Armstrong touched the moon, saying, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," the room exploded in a joyous tumult I will never forget. Some wept, many embraced, all rejoiced that an ancient dream had been fulfilled: a man was walking on the moon, ending our isolation on this small blue planet and beginning our exploration of the starlit expanse of the universe.
- Lee Ewing, Internet Consultant
It was the summer before my senior year in college and my brother and I were on our first trip to Europe-the $5-a-day route. We were staying in the Anne Frank Student House in Amsterdam and I was sick as a dog from some bug I'd picked up on our previous stop (Paris, no less). I could barely drag myself out of bed, but I somehow made it down to the lounge and watched that first moon landing with students from all over Europe and North America. Everyone cheered in wonder as we watched those space explorers land on that big piece of "Swiss cheese." (Actually, a Swiss girl said it was really made of French brie!) Nationality didn't matter-we were all citizens of the world as we watched TV that day.
- Author Unknown
I remember well the wooden floors in the assembly hall of my new school in Orange, N.S.W., Australia, where the entire school (all 500-odd pupils) were seated watching the live telecast.
It was the culmination of a year of major upheaval for me. My family had left England on the (now non-operational) Italian ship, the Achille Lauro, and had spent six weeks cruising to Sydney, Australia and then on to Orange where we were to make our new home. The Australian push for population that gave my family "assisted passage" as long as we stayed in Australia for at least two years, meant that the cost of the trip for my family of six (I was the ten-year-old eldest of four daughters) was only L20. L20 for a six-week cruise for the whole family including stops at Naples, Tenerife, Capetown, Freemantle. It was the cheapest (and best) holiday we ever had.
And now, here I was, shortly after our exciting voyage of discovery from one side of the earth to the other, from the lush green vegetation of sunny (ha-ha) England to the scrubby brown landscape that characterizes much of the central west of N.S.W, from the familiar mammals to the amazing marsupials and monotremes,....shortly after arriving on the magnificent island continent of Australia, there I was, watching the Apollo 11 land on the moon.
How much more awe-inspiring to set foot on an untouched and unfamiliar surface, and to be able to look back and see our beautiful planet from afar. The whole school was completely still as the sounds crackled from the television set. Until finally, after the eerie silence when the landing craft's door opened, and after Neil Armstrong spoke, a cheer for this major achievement for humankind, as well as the sense of relief that the astronauts had made it successfully to the moon and no doubt at all in the minds of the children that they would make it home again safely.
No other 12-month period since has equaled, for me, the intensity of feeling on a personal and on a humankind level.
- Author Unknown
I remember that on 20 July I was in Dublin, Ireland, my first trip outside the United States. We (all the Americans, basically) were in the lobby of our very modest hotel watching a small television. The innkeeper was putting shillings in the meter to operate the TV. so the visiting "Yanks" could watch the moon landing. The moderator for the BBC program that broadcast the landing was David Frost. The Brits were doing this sort of humorous routine about how Americans make a simple invention so complicated, I think it was some type of lantern they were describing. The routine was an interlude between attempts to broadcast the primitive pictures from space. Anyhow, I was just fresh out of college and thought I was very sophisticated. But, a feeling of national pride that makes one say, "hey, that is MY country you are making jokes about" was truly my reaction when those faint pictures from space started coming through the little black and white television set. Looking around the room I could see that it was a reaction the other Americans were feeling as well, as we watched with pride and with amazement something so spectacular that our country has accomplished.
- Author Unknown
On July 20, 1969, I was too young to be aware of the uniqueness of Apollo 11. But my elder brother Jan Bjerndell, then 14 years old, was indeed. Jan died this summer and was buried on July 16, the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. His fascination for the Apollo project was unbroken throughout the years. Just a few years ago, we discussed what would be remembered from the 20th century. Jan did not hesitate: nothing could beat the First Step on the Moon!
In 1969, we did not have a TV in our summer cottage (outside Alvesta, in southern Sweden), so Jan watched the moon landing with our neighbor Harald.
Jan kept a diary, from which I have translated a few excerpts:
"Wednesday July 16
Regarding the Launch of Apollo 11.
The first journey to the Moon will mean a lot to mankind. Certainly, it has cost 200 billion crowns, but the profits will soon be harvested. Already now, hundreds of people and thousands of industries are busy with the production of parts for the rockets, and the experiences from the space journeys have been useful also on Earth. The moon journey is also a milestone for the space age that we are into now. We on Earth follow the journey with great excitement and wish this strange and so far this most fantastic journey all luck. Long live the USA! Good luck Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins!
Sunday July 20
At 21:00, I went down alone to see the landing. A moment of world history!!! At 21:17.45, they touched ground--moon ground. Armstrong's first words were--Houston, Eagle has landed.
After the landing, we were reminded about man's stupidity and evilness, that is, they showed [on television] a bullfight from southern France. Sometimes, violence is necessary, but in this case, you wish the matadors would get a horn in the belly. Another example was the pictures from the war between Israel and Egypt. They must be bloody stupid.
MOON-day--July 21--The Greatest Day of Mankind
At about 00:45, Harald came up to get me for a moon-watch. Harald and Sune took a dram. Suddenly, Harald got a flash of genius: "The boy must have a dram, so he'll remember this day". He poured up, and I took it. At about 1:30 we went into the TV-room to watch the moon walk. The clock struck two, but no astronaut.
Then you saw a leg stretching out, groping for the moon surface. Then, suddenly, he stood on the surface!!! His first words were: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind". The first man stood on the Moon!!! It was a strange experience, an event of world history.
After a while, it is hard to say when as time disappears and you are fascinated only by the moment, the American flag was placed on the moon surface."
- Per Bjerndell, Engineer